Monday, January 28, 2008

Once upon a time....

How the story began....

We feel that we should tell a little more background on how this pregnancy came about. That may seem kind of funny at first because people are normally more discrete about discussing conception, but this conception didn’t happen the “traditional” way, as it resulted from a process of undergoing several infertility treatments. Infertility is an difficult trial because it delays or (in some cases) impedes the fulfillment of the desire to bring children into this world. Infertility tested our patience and faith because, beforehand, we didn't really expect to have difficulty in having children, and then during the process we didn't know if we were going to be able to get pregnant. As we met disappointment followed by disappointment, we were comforted by others who had experienced infertility. We were strengthened as they shared their stories and provided advice to us. Maybe our story can provide comfort and strength to others as well.

The pregnancy occurred when we did a round of intrauterine insemination (IUI). IUI is a procedure where they take a semen sample (in this case, mine), wash the sample to concentrate the good sperm, and (using a long, narrow syringe) inject the sperm directly into the uterus (in this case, Alisa's) within 24-48 hours after ovulation. We had attempted IUI once in Utah just before we moved to Houston, but it was obviously unsuccessful. We have been told that IUI only has a 25% success rate. So this was the first time we did IUI in Houston, and we weren’t extremely hopeful that it would be successful. For one, a 25% success rate doesn’t put the odds in your favor, and for another, Alisa hadn’t ever been pregnant even with two years of attempts during our marriage. Although two years is not as long as many people struggle with infertility, we were a bit worried considering we didn't get started until we were 30. Alisa also feels that she gets to count the years between 23 and 30 (at the very least) that she was not married but really wanted to be a mother.

So we (especially Alisa) were losing hope that we would be able to get pregnant, but we still wanted to try IUI to see if it could work out. And it did! The week after our IUI, we travelled to southern California to spend some time with Alisa's family. Alisa felt few a few pregnancy symptoms, but nothing that a strong desire to be pregnant (often to the level of obsession) wouldn't bring on. We decided not to do a pregnancy test. Possibly being too superstitious, we felt that pregnancy tests (those evil little test strips) were bad luck, considering Alisa had peed on many of them and we had never seen one with a positive result. Two weeks after the IUI, Alisa went into the doctor's office for a blood test. Our fertility doctor regularly schedules these tests after fertility procedures in order to gather more information. The kind nurse who took Alisa's blood offered a short, sincere prayer with her that the tests would come back positive. Later that afternoon, Alisa got a call with the results. Alisa had elevated levels of HCG, indicating a pregnancy! We were very surprised! Alisa went back to the doctor's office again two days later for another blood test, and the results were also positive! We felt very blessed that the time had come, and we kept praying that pregnancy would progress normally.

Two weeks after finding out that she was pregnant, Alisa went in for her first ultrasound, when they heard not only one heartbeat, but two! Twins! To be honest, we didn’t really pray for two to come at once, but we’ll definitely take it. Because some infertility treatments increase the odds of having twins (or more), I had joked with Alisa several times that we might as well start with twins just to catch up. I didn't really believe that the jokes would become reality. In fact, IUI doesn’t increase the odds of having twins, according to what we have read and been told by our doctor. The medication Alisa was taking to help her ovulate (Clomid) did increase our odds of twins, but our doctor told us that it only gives an 8% chance of twins. So the twins were even a surprise to our doctor.

We obviously don't see this pregnancy as an answer to all of our struggles (it has already introduced new ones, as we'll share in future posts), but we feel blessed to have this experience in our lives. We are striving to rely on the Lord, attempting to align our will with His, and our faith in Jesus Christ has strengthened as we have felt His influence in our life.